New Comment & Moderation Policy for this Blog …

image Last week I wrote a post called Fr Brian D’Arcy and his Critics: How Should Christians Talk about each Other? This post was in part motivated by an increasing number of comments on this blog which are either spurious personal attacks, or have little or nothing to do with the substance of the blog post or the subsequent debate.

Sadly, some commentators are continuing to post such comments. In the past week, I have removed some of these comments and seriously considered removing many more. When authors descend to the level of personal attack or indulge in a long post about a different or only vaguely-related topic, it creates a climate in which other readers of the blog find it difficult to have a constructive debate about the topics that are actually under consideration.

In a comment on last week’s Fr Brian D’Arcy and his Critics post, one of those commentators said:

Gladys: I respect your publishing our comments. Many sites don’t and many newspapers won’t.

This makes me ask whether some of these commentators have been banned from other blogs? I doubt that they have been banned because they disagree with the person or people who moderate the blog. If the posts on my blog are indicative, they have lost the privilege of posting comments because they have introduced new, irrelevant topics or resorted to personal attacks.

I think that the only way forward for Christians (and any concerned citizens) is to engage in respectful debate. I want to hear what people with different perspectives than I do have to say. But in future, this blog will be moderated much more stringently. I will remove and edit more posts and, if necessary, block people who consistently violate these ‘house rules.’

(Image sourced on flickr photosharing, by kev/null)

11 Responses to New Comment & Moderation Policy for this Blog …

  1. Martin January 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    I said that, and no I have not been banned from other sites. I don’t think I have said anything on this site which would fall into the criteria you’ve outlined above (well, maybe just once, and I asked you to edit my post). Whilst I agree with the content of many of the comments posted by other posters, I don’t agree with their venomous delivery. We must be charitable in truth.

    What I was getting at is that some sites (I can think of one Irish-based Catholic site) actually have hostile moderating, whereby the actually refuse to publish comments that would challenge the factual content of their posts. This is not acceptable because it is censorship to promote a certain agenda. I respect you Gladys because even though you may not agree with what I say, you are allowing me to post comments and alternative viewpoints on your site, as long as comments are not falling into the criteria you have highlighted above.

    Free speech and mutual respect for all, I say!

  2. Brian O'Neill January 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    The great thing about the internet is that anyone can setup a site and air their views for free.

    Sites like http://www.wordpress.com let you set up your own site in less than 5 minutes.

    I am sure Gladys welcomes all comments that are constructive and on topic, I am just letting people know if they think their views are not being heard then its very easy to start your own site.

    The internet welcomes all views.

  3. shane January 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Martin, what Irish Catholic site are you thinking of? Just curious

  4. Martin January 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Shane, it was actually the site of the ultra-dissenting ‘Association of Catholic Priests’. I know for a fact that comments have appeared on that site, only to be removed later, and other comments have been refused to be published because they did not go along with the prevailing agenda. To me, if you are going to have a blog, you have to be open and honest. If someone disagrees with you, let them. As long as all are courtesy, there is no issue, since the truth will come out. But to censor and stifle discussion is more like something the Chinese government would be at.

  5. Martin January 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Brian, WordPress is great alright, but If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

  6. shane January 20, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Well I can’t speak with any authority here because I have censored comments (from an atheist troll) on my blog. I did check out that ACP blog. A deeply depressing experience. Thankfully their views are very much a minority online; the Catholic blogosphere being overwhelmingly traditionalist.

  7. Martin January 21, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    I think Gladys that you might, as part of your studies, look at the rise of traditionalist Catholicism (the only kind, since Catholicism is intrinsically traditional and conservative) especially among the young, and as Shane said, among the online Catholic community. It would certainly make a good topic for a thesis!

    It is very exciting to watch all this happen. I feel quite blessed to be a child of Vatican II, watching the monkey business I grew up with and always suspected, only to learn later of the true richness and beauty of the Catholic faith, which is now experiencing an unstoppable resurgence.

  8. Eric Conway January 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    I agree with Gladys that personalised offense is to be avoided. I always try to attack the ideas I disagree with & not the individual. I have been quite viciously personally attacked ( in print only thankfully – so far ! ) by atheists & a number of ” liberals ” ; it’s not very nice. I have no problem with them critiquing my views, but their hate filled personalised attacks are vile. Unfortunately some editors seem to encourage it.

  9. Tanya Jones January 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    At the risk of being tautological, I think that what is intrinsic to the Catholic church is that it is catholic. As such, it maintains traditions of both conservatism (holding on to what is true for all time) and radicalism (questioning those structures and modes of expression which hinder the outpouring of the Gospel). It is the tension between these, and the continued prayerful work of discerning the right path between them which makes being a Catholic often difficult but ultimately joyful. We need conservatives but we need radicals as well and the greatest of saints – Gregory, Francis, Teresa etc – have of course been both.

  10. martin January 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Pope Benedict is a radical, but he is orthodox. There is a fine line between being an orthodox radical, and a modernist radical. One is at the heart of the Church, the other is not.

    It’s just like with Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Thought of as a modernist by some at the time, his ‘development of doctrine’ can be misconstrued by modernists as being the same thing as their ‘evolution of doctrine’, whereby what was black yesterday is white today, when the truth is the truth – yesterday, today and tomorrow. But the Church’s understanding and insight into the truth becomes informed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit who informs and leads the Church Magisterium – the Pope and the Bishops in union with him.

    (I hope what I’ve just said is in conformity with the Magisterium – if not, somebody can pull me up on it!)

  11. martin January 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I meant to add also, that the ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ are not mutually exclusive. And that Cardinal Newman was a great opponent of the liberalism trends he saw emerging among some in the Church at his time.

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